A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Black histories—historical events, locations, and figures—are included within the story, most notably in excerpts from a book provided to the central character titled "Black History for Kids," and historical events are dated and detailed in the author's note.
Allies and role models for Black youth can help bring about positive outcomes for those impacted by racism and racial inequality.
Positive Role Models
As the story unfolds, supportive characters—including allies, a loving parent, a skilled therapist, and notable figures of the civil rights movement, among others—are revealed and assist Imogen as she processes her real-world experiences.
The story is about a Black 12-year old girl—who also identifies herself as "Blue"—and heavily features a contrast of White and "Blue" (Black American) characters and communities, particularly within its dystopian narrative. Other minor characters include Rabbi Heschel. Black histories and social movements are referenced throughout, including civil rights marches and Black Lives Matter. Author Amber McBride is Black. A quote on diversity by Maya Angelou is included at the book's conclusion.
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Violence & Scariness
"Blue" (Black American) characters are created for enslaved service and forced labor. Trauma, indoctrination, and medical abuse are enacted on the central character, and her pet is killed. Historical events are referenced, which include multigenerational violence, enslavement, and murder of Black people. Additionally, recent murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by police are included.
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Products & Purchases
A scene in Washington, D.C., includes a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Lincoln Memorial. Insomnia Cookies, Amtrak, the Discovery Channel, and Baine's Coffee Shop are featured.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some scenes include vaccines and needle injections with experimental drugs and sedatives.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Gone Wolf by Amber McBride is a middle grade sci-fi novel set in both a dystopian future world and a fictional town in present-day Virginia. The story addresses racial oppression, racism, and the COVID pandemic and is about a Black 12-year-old girl who identifies her skin as "Blue" and is known as Inmate Eleven or Imogen. Violence includes enslaved service and forced labor of Black Americans. Trauma includes being isolated for long periods of time and confinement in a cell. Indoctrination happens to the main character through the use of flash cards intended to brainwash her about the superiority of the "Clones." Medical abuse includes the main character becoming a biological resource for her Clone superior. Her pet is killed in front of her. Historical events are referenced: multigenerational violence, enslavement, and murder of Black people. Additionally, mentions of police brutality toward Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are included but not described in bloody or gory detail.
Is It Any Good?
This surprising genre bender is full of science fiction, dystopian elements, horror, and real history that bring Imogen's courage full circle. Gone Wolf's sci-fi style with the spareness of The Giver makes itself distinct by overlapping historical realties with dystopian ones until the reader realizes the two are not so different for Black communities. Author Amber McBride ambitiously and successfully incorporates historical events spanning the Middle Passage up through recent events like the murder of George Floyd and weaves in scenes of child confinement and indoctrination that could be pages torn out of the Native American residential schools era. This confronting of the harsh realities and legacies of White supremacy within an engaging dystopian middle grade narrative is truly impressive. The confusing adult world is seen through the clarity of a child's eyes with remarkable precision. Readers will be moved by Imogen's courage in the face of loss, injustice, and generational grief and inspired by the allies who come alongside her. Readers will cheer when Imogen "goes wolf," concluding with a moving poem on healing and freedom. This is a compelling book for middle grade readers and will provide much discussion for families and classrooms.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
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